The position of HHS secretary is down to two possibilities, the people said, between Lujan Grisham and former Surgeon General
Biden’s health team will assume office with the U.S. still suffering from the pandemic, as virus cases and hospitalizations soared over the past month. His health secretary is expected to have input on filling other top health posts, such as FDA commissioner and the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the people said, so those appointments may not be announced until later.
The Health and Human Services secretary will have the tough task of rebuilding Obamacare, which Biden has promised to expand. That will be a difficult undertaking with a Republican-led Senate.
Mandy Cohen, the North Carolina state health secretary, is a favorite for CMS, the people said. Biden’s choices to lead the Food and Drug Administration appear narrowed down to
Biden announced his economic team on Tuesday, a group led by Treasury Secretary-designate
The people familiar with the matter asked not to be identified because talks are still ongoing and no final decision has been made. It’s not clear how many people will be announced at once, or which positions would later be filled by the health secretary once the Biden administration is in place.
Biden’s transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The U.S. recorded 158,000 new coronavirus infections on Monday and a record 205,000 cases three days earlier. Biden will take office as distribution of coronavirus vaccines ramps up, and he has warned that any delay in the transition to his administration could slow or complicate that endeavor.
Lujan Grisham is seen as having an easier path to confirmation than Murthy, who has spoken out against gun violence as a public health threat and may draw strong opposition from Senate Republicans as a result, the people familiar with the matter said.
If he isn’t nominated to lead HHS, Murthy is under consideration as Covid-19 czar or another role, including a second stint as surgeon general, the people said. Murthy talks to Biden almost every day as co-chair of his advisory board and is seen as having influential supporters.
Murthy and Zients have also represented Biden’s transition team on calls with current HHS officials, two of the people said.
Biden’s team is still discussing what the White House coronavirus task force and Operation Warp Speed -- the Trump administration’s effort to fast-track vaccines -- will look like under the new administration.
If Biden announces his health team next week, he may be just days ahead of the first emergency FDA approval of a coronavirus vaccine. President
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